Best Panthers Player (2007)

Nathan Horton

In a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lighting, Florida Panthers center Olli Jokinen passed on an opportunity to score an empty netter, sliding the puck to Horton, who notched his 30th goal of the season. In a way it symbolized the franchise's established superstar passing the torch on to its future, if Panthers management does the smart thing and renews Horton's contract — he's had his best professional season by far. The 21-year-old phenom flourished under the tutelage of Coach Jacques Martin. The six-foot-two, 200-pound right wing is fun to watch, too: In a game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Horton went crashing to the floor, but not before flicking a sizzling wrist shot into the net, tying the score at 2-2. It was perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the 2006 season. And the young man knows how to defer to his elders. Following the victory over Tampa Bay, Horton gushed to the Herald about Jokinen: "He's obviously our best player and means a lot to this team," Horton said. "Him being in our lineup every night gives us a chance to win." And so does having Horton.


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